Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW), an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches, is designed to bridge issues of faith, health, and justice. We partner with faith communities to provide the necessary tools for healthy, whole, and abundant living. Through these spotlights, we will be sharing an overview of the programs and initiatives of some of our partner congregations doing great work. For more information on how to join the Collaborative, visit healthandwholeness.org.
SUNSET BEACH, NC — For about 15 years now, the health ministry at Seaside United Methodist Church (UMC) in Sunset Beach has been working to make sure its community thrives in God’s image. Ann Pike and Judy Rocklage have played crucial roles ensuring the church provides programs that align with the needs of its community. Ann serves as the director of the food pantry, and Judy serves as the chair of the health and wellness committee.
Food insecurity has affected so many individuals and families, but the food pantry at Seaside UMC offsets these effects by offering fresh, local foods to those in need. The pantry is open every Tuesday from 9:30-11:30 AM, and as Ann mentioned, it is open to anyone and everyone. During this time, they have also been able to offer quick blood pressure checks. Ann also discussed that they have been able to address mental health during the hours of the food pantry as well through Stephen Ministries, a lay-caring ministry service offered to any church that trains individuals to provide care and support to anyone in need. Ann discussed that this has been very impactful, because the pantry is about more than just food: “It’s more than just giving a bag of groceries — we try to address the whole health of people. We’re not just here handing out food, we’re trying to be the hands and feet of Christ.” Ann emphasized that the food pantry has really been successful because of the friendships and sense of community it has created: “It has been a blessing to me. Everyone is so lovely and they inspire me so much. I look forward to seeing my people every Tuesday!”
Beyond their Stephen Ministry, Seaside UMC offers even more robust mental health care through support groups. These groups include grief share, grandparents support, stroke survivors support, Parkinson’s support, divorce care, lay visits, and dementia support. Seaside UMC also hosted Understanding Dementia, a conference focused on care, support, and awareness related to dementia. Judy explained further the impact of the conference and support groups: “We hosted a day-long seminar focused on dementia care with 3 speakers from the Dementia Alliance. At that meeting, we had people sign-up for our support group, and 23 people showed up to the first meeting! The support groups are really helpful. At the seminar, people thanked us for the support groups. It’s what our people need and what they want.”
Much of the Sunset Beach community are retired individuals, so Judy discussed that Seaside UMC hopes to host conferences each year related to a topic that promotes healthy aging. Judy discussed in more detail their hopes for the conference next year: “We want to focus on a new topic every year, so next year we are going to do another seminar focused on depression. As you get older you lose a lot of your mobility and it can be depressing because you can’t do the things you used to.”
Seaside UMC truly cares about the mind, body, and spirit of all God’s children. We are grateful to work with, support, and learn from them. If you would like to speak with Ann or Judy about Seaside UMC’s food pantry and health ministry, you can contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org or Judy at email@example.com.